The latest “Man of La Mancha” moment for Virginia Republicans is the incredibly impossible dream of unseating popular Democratic Senator Mark Warner, the former governor who is about as close as they come to a sure thing in political circles.
Even worse, 4,000 GOP delegates come to Roanoke on June 7 with the the laughable task of picking among four sure losers for the questionable role of running as the hand-picked candidate of the party of the elephant against Warner in his first re-election effort.
Leading the list is former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie, now a lobbyist living in Fairfax off his golden years as part of the Bush bunch and one who thinks he can repeat the success of former Democratic National Committee boss and current Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe.
Challenging Gillespie is Stafford County “congressional policy adviser” Ton DeTora, Air Force veteran Shak Hill from Centreville and businessman Chuck Moss in Prince Edward County.
The GOP can, and will, nominate just about anybody — as they proved by picking rabid right-wing zealot E.W. Jackson as the party’s lieutenant governor. Jackson, a fundamentalist preacher from Chesapeake, got into hot water and cost his party votes every time he opened his mouth. The race for the second spot on the ticket was the first one decided in last year’s election.
If the GOP selection is Gillespie, and most — including University of Virginia political guru Larry Sabato — see him as close to a sure shot, reporters will have a field day with the man who, as an aide to former Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey. drafted most of the party’s “Contract With America,” the highly-touted campaign tool that helped the GOP secure a majority in the House of Representatives in 1994.
The “Contract With America” was both a political tool for victory and a sham that was quickly ignored and forgotten by the GOP when they seized power. It promised term limits — the first idea dropped by Republican after victory — and an end to pork barrel-laden legislation. What followed was largest influx of pork in history.
Gillespie, a New Jersey native, has enough skeletons in his closet to bring on a din of bone-rattling noise.
Warner served as one of the most popular governors in history and replaced popular Senator John Warner (no relation), who retired in 2008.
Virginians put the new Warner in office with 65 percent of the vote against another former governor — Republican Jim Gilmore. Warner carried all but four counties. Even heavily Republican Floyd County gave him a majority.
Republicans say they will use Warner’s support for President Barack Obama as a campaign issue against him.
An interesting ploy, since Obama carried Virginia in 2008 along with Warner. Did the party of the elephant forget that?